Are Your Ex-Employees Killing Your Company’s Reputation?

Are Your Ex-Employees Killing Your Company’s Reputation?

Are Your Ex-Employees Killing Your Company’s Reputation?

Just because they don’t work for you anymore doesn’t mean they can’t impact your future.

With the local unemployment rate for all occupations at 4.2% [1] and the national rate for college graduates over age 25 at 2.3% [2] the war for talent has become critical.  The labor market has changed from employer driven to candidate driven. Identifying, attracting and landing the right person for each job has become a challenge for most companies.  As a company, you can no longer post a job, expect overwhelming response and have the pick of the group.  Your name alone won’t be enough to attract the best and brightest.

In today’s data driven, online world it has become easy for a company’s reputation to be damaged by a viral video (think United Airlines) or a negative online review.  69% of job-seekers would not take a job with a company that had a bad reputation [3], even if they were unemployed!

Glassdoor and Indeed have become the go-to sites for employees to rate and evaluate companies, current and former employees have access and can post reviews on both sites.  Most job seekers can handle the random negative review, but if there’s more than a couple of people complaining about your company, they’ll take notice and look elsewhere.

3 ways ex-employees can damage your reputation

Both current and ex-employees now have several places where they can make their opinion heard.

  1. Negative Glassdoor/Indeed reviews. These sites give ex-employees the opportunity to share their experiences.  The company is given a 1 – 5 rating, even CEOs are rated for their performance.  Over the past year and a half, the number of reviews on Indeed has grown from 2,500 per week to nearly 55,000 per week.  In a survey of 1,000 recent job seekers, 83% of respondents said employer reviews influenced their decision on where to apply, and 46% said that a company’s reputation had a significant impact in their final decision to accept a job offer.
  2. Back-door references through LinkedIn. With more than 400 million members, LinkedIn is the number one professional networking tool in the world. With just a few clicks, a job seeker can connect with former employees of a given company and seek their off-the-record thoughts on their former employer.
  3. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.  Angry ex-employees often take to these social media platforms to vent to friends, family and the world. Because bad news travels fast and colorful commentary is the most memorable, employees can spread the word quickly through these networks about their negative experience with your company. Plus, they use hashtags (i.e., try searching #bademployer) to make it possible for people to find their comments and share them with others.

Money isn’t the answer

A recent study by Harvard Business Review and ICM Unlimited released in March 2016 found that struggling employer brands needed to offer a minimum of 10% pay increase to convince a candidate to accept a job offer.  And that’s just the ones the company can convince to come on board.  Nearly half of the people surveyed would entirely rule out taking a job with a company with bad reviews. [4]

Companies can impact their employer brand in three significant areas – candidate experience/on-boarding, employee experience and exit process.

Only 10% of Fortune 500Candidate experience/on-boarding.  Companies that have a simple straightforward application process fair better.  Candidates should be able to complete the application process in less than 20 minutes.  An ATS that requires an applicant to endlessly input the same information contained in a resume will cause the candidate to give up and not complete the application.  Does your ATS track candidates who start but abandon it before completion?  It should, and you should track that statistic.   Each abandoned application has the potential of losing a high potential employee.  Your application process also needs to be mobile and social friendly, job seekers want to be able to apply using a mobile device or save it for later to apply on a PC.

Successful On-boarding is more than making sure a desk is available on the first day.  Every organization has its own version of the complex process through which new hires learn attitudes, knowledge, skills and behaviors required to function effectively.  The formality and comprehensiveness of on-boarding programs varies widely across organizations, and those considered “best in class” for on-boarding have more formal on-boarding programs.  Used in conjunction with HRM best practices, effective on-boarding will result in a faster learning curve for new hires, improved communication and a more productive and engaged workforce.

92% of employees would leaveEmployee Experience.  Engagement is the term most companies use to describe how well employees are aligned with the mission and vision of the organization.  Give employees a reason to stay and a vision of their future and they rarely leave or write negative reviews.  A recent study found that 79% of millennials would want a boss to serve more as a coach or mentor, additionally 88% prefer a collaborative work culture rather than a competitive one. [5]  Millennials now make up 34% of the workforce, and by 2020 one in two employees will be a millennial.

Exit Process.  At times it is necessary to exit one or more individuals from the organization, how this is handled is a major factor determining if you will get a negative review.   In cases of reorganization and downsizing have you clearly communicated the business need for the action in advance, so employees are not surprised?  Are separations handled professionally with compassion?  Are impacted employees offered career transition services to assist in securing employment?

By offering these services immediately after separation to your affected employees, the provider is in a position to protect your brand.  These services are documented to reduce the time to landing by as much as 40%, reducing unemployment exposure and reduced potential of litigation.

While you may not be able to make separating employees happy, how you treat them will make a big difference in how they feel about (and subsequently review) your company.

Why it matters

THE CANDIDATE HAS THE ABILITY TO TAKE CONTROLA lot has changed in the last decade – not only has the economy recovered, giving workers leverage in their career choices, but social media and employer review sites have given the once silent participants of the labor market – job candidates and the employed – a voice. And it’s a voice that can be logged instantly, indexed online, and searched forever.

With increased access to new media, job seekers and employees can now impact the employer brand conversation and perception with a few clicks.  In the past decade, social and peer review sites have shifted the consumer mentality and culture, informing our every decision from where to eat (e.g. Yelp), what movie to watch (e.g. Rotten Tomatoes), and which employer to trust with our future (e.g. Glassdoor).

Career Development Partners helps clients maximize the performance of their workforce by aligning talent and business strategies through talent acquisition, staff/leadership development and career transition/outplacement.

We can assist your organization by identifying, sourcing, acquiring and on-boarding the right talent, developing that talent to maximize the return on your HC investment and when necessary gracefully exiting the organization as business conditions change.

Call us to discuss how we can help you protect your employment brand.


Rick ChristensenRick Christensen: Director, Career Transition Practice

Rick has been a career consultant for over 20 years, serving a very broad-based and diverse clientele. His specialties include effective group facilitation, one-on-one coaching and consultation at all levels including senior executives.

Rick’s passion is coaching individuals through career transitions, developing career management strategies and in identifying and sharpening competencies to open doors to new opportunities. His efforts have assisted thousands of individuals achieve their full potential.


[1] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Unemployment Rate in Tulsa, OK (MSA) [TULS140URN], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/TULS140URN, June 9, 2017.

[2] https://www.bls.gov/charts/employment-situation/unemployment-rates-for-persons-25-years-and-older-by-educational-attainment.htm

[3] https://www.glassdoor.com/employers/popular-topics/hr-stats.htm

[4] https://hbr.org/2016/03/a-bad-reputation-costs-company-at-least-10-more-per-hire

[5] https://www.forbes.com/sites/robasghar/2014/01/13/what-millennials-want-in-the-workplace-and-why-you-should-start-giving-it-to-them/#b8c1e0b4c404

Travis Jones - CEO of Career Development Partners

Written By Rick Christensen

Rick has been a career consultant for over 20 years, serving a very broad-based and diverse clientele. His specialties include effective group facilitation, one-on-one coaching and consultation at all levels including senior executives.

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